8. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
8. Intelligebam 1 ad cornua: et ecce cornu aliud parvum exortum fuit inter alia: et tria ex cornibus prioribus ablata sunt e facie ejus: et ecce oculi quasi oculi hominis in cornua illo, et os loquens grandia.
Daniel proceeds with his description of the fourth beast. First, he says, he was attentive, with the intention of rousing us to serious meditation. For what is said of the fourth beast, was remarkably memorable and worthy of notice. This, then, is the reason why God struck the heart of his servant with wonder. For the Prophet would not have given his attention to the consideration of the fourth beast, unless he had been impelled to it by the secret instinct of God. The Prophet's attention, then, sprang from a heavenly impulse. Wherefore it is our duty not to read carelessly what is here written, but to weigh seriously and with the greatest diligence what the Spirit intends by this vision. I was attentive, therefore, says he, to the horns, and behold one small one arose among them. Here interpreters begin to vary; some twist this to mean the Pope, and others the Turk; but neither opinion seems to me probable; they are both wrong, since they think the whole course of Christ's kingdom is here described, while God wished only to declare to his Prophet what should happen up to the first advent of Christ. This, then, is the error of all those who wish to embrace under this vision the perpetual state of the Church up to the end of the world. But the Holy Spirit's intention was completely different. We explained at the beginning why this vision appeared to the Prophet -- because the minds of the pious would constantly fail them in the dreadful convulsions which were at hand, when they saw the supreme dominion pass over to the Persians. And then the Macedonians broke in upon them, and acquired authority throughout; the whole of the East, and afterwards those robbers who made war under Alexander suddenly became kings, partly by cruelty and partly by fraud and perfidy, which created more strife than outward hostility. And when the faithful saw all those monarchies perish, and the Roman Empire spring up like a new prodigy, they would lose their courage in such confused and turbulent changes. Thus this vision was presented to the Prophet, that all the children of God might understand what severe trials awaited them before the advent of Christ. Daniel, then, does not proceed beyond the promised redemption, and does not embrace, as I have said, the whole kingdom, of Christ, but is content to bring the faithful to that exhibition of grace which they hoped and longed for.
It is sufficiently clear, therefore, that this exhibition ought to be referred to the first advent of Christ. I have no doubt that the little horn relates to Julius Caesar and the other Caesars who succeeded him, namely, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and others. Although, as we said before, the counsel of the Holy Spirit must be attended to, which leads the faithful forwards to the beginning of the reign of Christ, that is, to the preaching of the Gospel, which was commenced under Claudius, Nero, and their successors. He calls it a little horn, because Caesar did not assume the name of king; but when Pompey and the greater part of the senate were conquered, he could not enjoy his victory without assuming to himself supreme power. Hence he made himself tribune of the people and their dictator. Meanwhile, there were always Consuls; there was always some shadow of a Republic, while they daily consulted the senate and sat in his seat while the consuls were at the tribunals. Octavius followed the same practice, and afterwards Tiberius also. For none of the Caesars:. unless he was consul, dared to ascend the tribunal; each had his own seat, although from that place he commanded all others. It is not surprising, then, if Daniel calls the monarchy of Julius and the other Caesars a little horn, its splendor and dignity were not great enough to eclipse the majesty of the senate; for while the senate retained the name and form of honor, it is sufficiently known that one man alone possessed the supreme power. He says, therefore, this little horn was raised among the ten others. I must defer the explanation of what follows, viz., three of these ten were taken away.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast formerly admonished thy servants, that thy children, while they are pilgrims in this world, must be familiar with horrible and cruel beasts, if the same thing should happen to us, that we may be prepared for all contests. May we endure and overcome all temptations, and may we never doubt thy desire to defend us by thy protection and power, according to thy promise. May we proceed through the midst of numberless dangers, until after accomplishing the course of our warfare, we at length arrive at that happy rest which is laid up for us in heaven by Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
Three things remain to be explained by us in expounding the Fourth Beast. First of all, Three horns were taken away from its face; Secondly, The little horn, which rose among the ten, appeared with human eyes; Thirdly, It spoke magnificently, or uttered swelling words. With regard to the three horns, it is sufficiently evident from the testimony of the angel that they were three kings; not because this ought to be referred to persons, as I yesterday disproved, but because the Romans were accustomed to send to each province, rulers like kings who there exercised the supreme authority. Those who extend this prophecy to the end of Christ's Kingdom, think that a dispersion which happened about three or five hundred years after the death of Christ is intended; but they are greatly mistaken. Clearly enough the whole strength of the Roman Empire was exhausted and the provinces gradually cut off, till it became a kind of mutilated body; but we yesterday showed the incorrectness of any explanation of this oracle, except concerning the state of the Church at the first Advent of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel. At that time, it is well known, nothing had been subtracted from the boundaries of the Empire. For Julius Caesar was formidable not only to the Gauls, but also to the Germans; and besides this, the affairs of the East were at peace. After his death, although Octavius or Augustus had suffered two very destructive slaughters, especially under Quintilius Varus, who had been sent into Germany with a powerful army, yet he also extended the boundaries of the Empire, especially in the East. He also subdued the whole of Spain, where no commotion afterwards took place. As, therefore, at that period no province had been cut off from the Roman Empire, what is the meaning of the expression, Three horns were cut off and removed from the face of the beast? The solution is not, difficult. Only let us observe how the little horn is compared with the first stature of the beast. It first appeared with ten horns; when the little horn arose its figure was changed. The Prophet then says -- a part of the horns was cut off, as the senate then ceased to create proconsuls. For we know how Augustus assumed to himself certain provinces, and he did this for the purpose of creating' presidents at his own will, and of constituting a strong force, ever at hand, should any one rebel against him. For he did not care so much about provinces as about an army, should any tumult arise. He was desirous, therefore, of throwing a bridle over them all, lest any one should dare to attempt a revolution. Whatever was thus added to the little horn was taken from the ten horns, that is, from the whole body, as the state of the monarchy was entirely changed. There is nothing forced in this exposition. We must also contend for a definite or fixed number being put for an uncertain one; as if the Prophet: had said -- a part of the power of the beast was abstracted after the rising' of the little horn. Thus much for the first clause.
He now adds, The eyes in this small horn were like those of men; and then, it spoke mighty things, With respect to the eyes, this expression implies -- the form of a human body was exhibited, because, the Caesars did not abolish the senate nor change at once the whole form of the government; but, as we yesterday said, they were content with power; and as to splendor, titles, and pomp, they readily left these to the consuls and the senate. If any one considers the manner in which those Caesars, who are doubtless intended by the little horn, conducted themselves, their conduct will appear like a human figure. For Julius Caesar pretended, although he was dictator, to obey the senate's authority, and the consuls asked the opinion of the senators, after the ancient manner. He sat in the midst, and permitted many things to be decreed without interposing his will. Augustus also abused the shadow of the tribunitial power only for the purpose of ruling the Empire. Thus he submitted to the consuls; and when he wished to be elected to that office, he became a candidate with the other competitors, and put on the white robe like a private citizen. Tiberius also was a great pretender, and while plotting schemes of tyranny, was neither open nor ingenuous in his plans. So also the eyes of a man appeared in the little horn, that is, after this change took place and the senate and people were deprived of their liberty. He who held the government of the republic was not formidable, as an entire beast, but was like a private man as to outward form.
The Prophet adds, The small horn had a loud sounding mouth. For although, with the view of conciliating favor, the Caesars conducted themselves like men, we know how atrociously they threatened their enemies, and how imperiously they either hindered or committed whatever they lusted, as it seemed good to them. There was, then, a great difference between their mouth and their eyes. For, as we already said, the splendor and dignity of the empire was in the power of the consuls and senate at the beginning. Meanwhile, by insidious arts, the Caesars drew towards themselves the whole power, till no one dared to do anything, except at their bidding. Many interpreters explain this as blasphemy against God, and impiety; and the angel will touch upon this point at the close of the chapter. But; if we weigh the whole expression judiciously, what I say will appear correct, and the loud speaking here mentioned by the Prophet will signify, that pride with which the Caesars', were puffed up, imposing silence on all men and allowing no one to open their mouths contrary to their will. The Prophet's words are very well explained by this fact; for the three horns being removed from the ten, means some part of the empire was separated from the main body; then, the small horn being endued with human eyes, implies a kind of modesty, as the Caesars acted like private persons, and left outward show with the senate and people; and thirdly, when the mouth of the little horn spoke swellingly, trepidation seized upon all the Romans, and especially whoever enjoyed any reputation, hung upon the nod of the Caesars, who imposed the vilest slavery, and received the foulest and most shameful flattery from the whole senate. It now follows, --